Cole Porter

Cole Porter

Composer, Lyricist


Biography


Cole Albert Porter (June 9, 1891 – October 15, 1964) was an American composer and songwriter. By the end of his life, he had written over 800 songs and is synonymous with the Golden Age of the twentieth century American musical.

He was born in 1891 in Indiana to a wealthy family. He enjoyed the comforts of growing up learning the piano and violin and, by the age of 11, had written a song that he managed to get published with the help of his mother. However, Porter had to battle against the domineering influence of his grandfather who wanted his grandson to study law. Whilst at Harvard Law School, Porter switched to studying music without his grandfather’s knowledge.

Although his first Broadway musical, See America First (1916), was not a hit, Porter moved to Europe and began to write songs for London shows. By the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters for the Broadway musical stage, with hits such as ‘Night and Day’ (sung by Fred Astaire in the musical Gay Divorce) and a catalogue of songs in the hit musical Anything Goes (1934). Unlike many successful Broadway composers at the time, Porter composed and wrote the lyrics for his songs. However, his songs were not confined to the stage – songs such as ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and ‘In the Still of the Night’ were all written for films.

Porter was left disabled and in constant pain after his horse fell on top of him and crushed both legs in 1937. He continued to work and produced some memorable songs. However, his shows did not receive the critical success that they had in the 1930s. In 1948 he made a triumphant comeback with his most successful musical,_Kiss Me, Kate, adapted from William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It was a big hit and won the first Tony Award for Best Musical.

Porter's other musicals included Fifty Million Frenchmen, DuBarry Was a Lady, Can-Can, and Silk Stockings. His numerous hit songs also included Begin the Beguine, I Get a Kick Out of You, Well, Did You Evah!, I've Got You Under My Skin, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, and ‘You're the Top’. He also composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Born to Dance(1936), which featured the song ‘You'd Be So Easy to Love’, Rosalie (1937), which featured ‘In the Still of the Night’; High Society (1956), which included ‘True Love’; and Les Girls (1957).

In 1958, Porter had to have his right leg amputated as a result of his injuries. This was a terrible blow to the musician and he withdrew from both public and professional life. He died in California in 1964, aged 73.


Shows by Cole Porter

Title
Synopsis

The S. S. American is sailing between New York and England with a comically colorful assemblage of passengers: Reno Sweeney, a popular nightclub singer and former evangelist, her pal Billy Crocker, a lovelorn Wall Street brok... read more

Set in the year 1893, Can-Can tells the tale of Paris dance hall owner, La Mome Pistache, and her battle with a self-rightious judge, Aristide, who is determined to shut her business down. The sexy Can-Can dance has become po... read more

Louis Blore, attendant in the men's washroom of the Club Petite in New York, wins $75,000 in the Irish sweeps. Having long had a crush on the star of the floor show, May Daly, Louis seeks to win her away from her fiancé. H... read more

After meeting the American novelist, Guy Holden, Mimi Pratt will do whatever it takes to get out of her loveless marriage. She ends up staging an affair with a professional co-respondent. When he later runs into her at a seas... read more

Tracy Lord is ecstatic about her impending marriage to George Kittredge, a successful industrialist. Soon, her ex-husband, Dexter, bounds in and informs the family that unless Tracy agrees to be photographed by two reporters... read more

The Royal Family of a fictional European country use the threat posed by an impending revolution as an excuse to abandon the throne and pursue their private dreams. The King, the Queen, the Prince and Princess each befriend t... read more

Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. The battl... read more

Joe Bascom, a.k.a. Humphrey Fish, is a wanted American criminal hiding out in Mexico. At a bullfight, he is mistakenly chosen as the ˜good-will ambassador' and thrust into a position of publicity and scrutiny. Pursued by poli... read more

Fresh out of finishing school in Switzerland, beautiful young Evangeline is on a quest to lose her innocence. Miss Pratt, her school teacher, has urged Evangeline and her classmates to "experiment" and Evangeline has taken t... read more

"Out of this World" is a musical adaptation of Plautus' comedy Amphitryon. The story revolves around the lives of Roman gods Mercury and Jupiter, who are in search of some earthly entertainment. The focus of their attention... read more

"Panama Hattie" concerns Hattie Maloney, a nightclub singer in Panama, who is engaged to a military officer, Nick Bullett. Hattie desperately wants to fit in with Nick and his upper-crust world. She also struggles to win the... read more

Special envoy Nina Yaschenko is dispatched from the Soviet Union to rescue three foolish commissars who have been seduced by the pleasures of Paris. She is romanced by theatrical agent Steven Canfield and eventually comes to... read more

Overview

Nationality
American
Born
6/9/1891
Died
10/15/1964
Show Categories
Musical
Genres
Comedy, Romance, Dark Comedy, Farce, Drama, Fairy Tale/Fantasy

Clips